Have you ever had a near-death experience? How close have you come to dying?
Oh, hooray, something morbid to contemplate.
I've had a couple, the first being at age 5.
Our family was vacationing at Yosemite National Park, and my two sisters (the oldest being all of Eight Going On Nine at the time) were set with the task of watching me as we wandered around an outdoor display of old gold mining machinery.
Well, at some point, I got it into my head that I was going to Go Find Mommy, and ran off at full tilt...
... right into the sharp, blade-like edge of some century-old piece of Gold Rush apparatus, set conveniently at Five Year Old Noggin Height.
The blade sliced neatly through the skin of my forehead, along with the layer of muscle underneath, and a major artery. Yes, one of my earliest memories is seeing the world through a red curtain of arterial blood.
Parents were not far distant, as it transpired, and the park ranger responded very quickly (dropping his groceries, as it was always related in later family tellings). With the subcutaneous muscles cut, my forhead skin sagged alarmingly, causing my father to think that there was an actual chunk of skin missing; wonderful parent that he was, he sent my sisters back to the blood-soaked ground to find it.
I was bustled to a doctor's office and stitched up, and I still have a scar neatly along my hairline; four decades later, it's only barely visible. There was a lot of blood lost, of course, and as my mother tells it, I passed out in the car at least once. I have no idea how close I came to death, but if any of several factors had been even slightly different ... .
The other time that I can remember isn't nearly as impressive a tale, and it's been told in this journal fairly recently: the 70-mph blowout I had on I-680 back in March, In this particular instance, I was wholly uninjured, but, again, a slightly different array of factors could have been Very Bad Indeed. If I'd been driving my late, lamented Aspire, with its slimmer wheels and higher center of gravity, I almost certainly would have rolled; the Aspire's tires were brand-new when it was destroyed, but if the blowout was because of something I'd run over, that wouldn't have made a difference.
However close I did or did not come to my Final Destination on that highway, it was shock enough to knock me out of the clinical depression that had plagued me throughout 2009 (if not longer).
Ultimately, I guess I survived that by keeping a firm grip on the wheel and remaining in control during the worst of the crisis.
I suspect that's a metaphor.